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More than 17 Days
Trails of Indochina & Thailand 25 days 24 nights
Trails of Indochina & Thailand 25 days journey takes in the historical and cultural marvels, modern cities and the natural wonders of three of Asia’s most captivating destinations: Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand. Delve headfirst into history in Hue and Ayutthaya, relax in stunning surroundings in Halong Bay and Phuket and find peace amongst the grand temples of Angkor Wat.
Day 1: Arrive In Hanoi
Upon arrival, meet your guide who will be waiting to transfer you to your hotel. Check in and spend the rest of your day at your leisure, acclimatising to this bustling city.
Day 2: Essence Of Hanoi - Monuments And Alleyways (B/L)
Today, journey to see the highlights and hidden gems of Hanoi at the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, an imposing structure that houses the remains of the revered former president who led Vietnam’s campaign for independence from colonial rule. Next, head to the Temple of Literature, an ancient collection of courtyards, gardens and architecture built in homage to the Chinese scholar Confucius. Considered the oldest university in Vietnam, the Temple of Literature dates back nearly one thousand years! Enjoy lunch at a restaurant specialising in traditional Hanoi delicacies.
Follow your guide’s lead while you weave through some of the Old Quarter’s 36 streets, all named for the products historically sold here. Head through labyrinthine back alleys well off the tourist trail and see Hanoi at its unpolished best. Wrap up your guided walk with a strong Vietnamese coffee at a café overlooking Hoan Kiem Lake, before heading to your final stop at Ngoc Son Temple on the tiny island on the lake. Enjoy a water puppet show for a look at traditional performance art in Vietnam before heading back to your hotel.
Day 3: Hanoi - Halong - Overnight Cruise (B/L/D)
Depart from Hanoi and travel by shuttle bus to the seaside port of Halong Bay. Transfer to Tuan Chau island to board the Calypso Deluxe, a beautifully restored traditional wooden junk. Settle in and enjoy the view from the water.
Lunch is served as you leisurely cruise between Cat Ba Island and Ha Long Bay, before ping anchor for a tour through Sung Sot cave. Cruise on through to the Lom Bo Canal area to visit a local Pearl Farm and have the opportunity to purchase a unique Halong Bay gift. If you’re feeling adventurous, disembark for a spot of kayaking in the floating village.
Back on board, head on to your mooring for the evening and take part in a Vietnamese cooking demonstration from the on board chefs! Enjoy dinner on the deck and wrap up your day with a cocktail or try your hand at squid fishing.
Day 4: Halong - Hanoi - Flight To Hue (B/L)
Rise early to catch sunrise over Bai Tu Long Bay while taking part in a Tai Chi class with the boat’s Tai Chi guru. Enjoy breakfast on the sundeck before cruising onward to Ti Tov Island. Your final stop at Ti Tov leaves plenty of time to explore, hiking up to the scenic viewpoint or swimming off of the beach. On the final leg of your cruise pass by the well-known karsts of Thumb Island, Fighting Cocks and the Incense Karst which is featured on the 200,000 dong note.
Say goodbye to the crew at the main harbour and take the private transfer about 4 hours back to Hanoi, arriving late in the afternoon. Later in the evening, transfer to the airport for your flight to Hue.
Day 5: Essence Of Hue - Tombs, Garden House And Local Crafts (B/L)
Begin your day by floating down the peaceful Perfume River by boat, taking in the endless surrounding greenery. At the end of your hour-long boat trip, hop off at the pier to explore the tombs of Emperor Khai Dinh and Minh Mang Tomb.
For lunch, feast on a vegetarian meal prepared by nuns at Dong Thuyen Pagoda, a temple located on the top of a hill with a fantastic view. Take the opportunity to learn about the Buddhist religion or just get to know your friendly hosts.
Next, make your way to Thanh Tien Village, well-known for over 300 years of crafting paper flowers. Meet one of the local villagers and learn how to make your own ornate paper flower. You can be sure that your visit is backing a good cause as it is supported by Backstreet Academy, a social enterprise providing struggling artists, craftsmen and home-based workers with additional income and recognition.
Finally, visit Tha Om Garden House and its owner, Mr Vinh. Explore the traditional 19th century Hue residence and listen to Mr Vinh’s stories of his royal heritage before returning to your hotel.
Day 6: Hue - Transfer To Hoi An - Evening Foodie Group Tour (B/L)
Depart from your hotel in Hue and continue south to the riverside town of Hoi An. The five hour trip hugs the coastline along the North Pacific Ocean with breathtaking views, particularly as the road winds its way up the Hai Van Pass (“Pass of the Clouds”). As you pass through the city of Danang, stop at the Cham Museum. The Cham ruled central Vietnam from the 2nd - 13th centuries and were an important influence on religion and education in the region.
In the evening set off on a culinary adventure in Hoi An to discover the flavours and dishes that make this coastal town unique. Alongside an expert local guide, your journey introduces you to the stories behind Hoi An’s most iconic dishes at the town’s most famous eateries. Throughout the evening you’ll try white rose dumplings, banh can and Cao Lau and you’ll stop by a local Ancient House.
Day 7: Essence Of Hoi An - Highlights & Hidden Charm (B/L)
Start your walking journey through the breezy walking streets, lined with honey-yellow buildings, and arrive at Chua Ong Pagoda. This Chinese inspired structure dates back to 1653, and its interior still wafts the sweet smell of incense during the day. From here, walk onward to nearby Phuc Kien Assembly Hall and Jinshang Temple, dedicated to the Goddess of the Sea.
After passing by the 200-year old Tan Ky House, take a short break at the Japanese Covered Bridge - one of Hoi An’s most iconic structures. At Reaching Out Tea House - an establishment that aids locals with disabilities - sit down for a rejuvenating cup of tea before having a tasty lunch accompanied by a cooking demonstration at a restaurant specialising in traditional Hoi An delicacies.
Afterwards, hop on a cyclo and head out toward Cam Thanh Village, a small community located in the outskirts of central Hoi An. Your destination is a small village home to meet a local family. On the nearby river, hop in a bamboo basket boat to visit a water coconut forest and then on board a boat bound for central Hoi An. After taking in the stunning riverside scenery along the Thu Bon River, wrap up your journey with a sunset cocktail at a rooftop bar.
Day 8: Hoi An – Flight To Ho Chi Minh City (B/L)
After your flight to Ho Chi Minh City, check in to your hotel and then start a day of exploring at the city’s Central Post Office, next door to the iconic Notre Dame Cathedral. Next, stroll toward the Saigon River along Dong Khoi Street to the centre of town and the commanding Saigon Opera House.
The tour continues with a stop at the Reunification Palace, where a North Vietnamese tank crashed through the gates in 1975 to end a war that killed an estimated 58,000 Americans and three million Vietnamese. Visit the War Remnants Museum for a harrowing look into the wartime hardships and atrocities.
In the evening head back to the Saigon Opera House, to watch the spectacular A O Show. This performance is a showcase of Vietnamese culture and art, and combines, in beautiful precision, elements of both old and new.
After the hour long show, take a short walk through the wide Boulevards of central Saigon to Hoa Tuc Restaurant - a real culinary and architectural gem, tucked away from the hustle and bustle of District 1. Renowned for its combination of contemporary Vietnamese cuisine and authentic French colonial architecture, Hoa Tuc is the perfect end to a memorable night in Saigon.
Day 9: Local Life - Cu Chi By River Tour (B/L)
Escape the congestion of Ho Chi Minh City and head out into the countryside, a far cry from the frenetic urban sprawl of downtown Saigon. As you journey down the Saigon River by speedboat, watch the city fade into the background, replaced by scenes of rural Vietnamese life, and enjoy a ion of traditional Vietnamese fruits.
Your destination is the Cu Chi tunnels, the infamous underground city for Viet Cong soldiers during the Vietnam War. Central to the Viet Cong’s strategic war operations, including the famous 1968 Tet Offensive, it is still complete with a hospital, kitchen, and schools. The Cu Chi experience can be emotionally draining for some visitors, but it does offer a fascinating look into the ingenuity of the local Vietnamese people.
Before lunch, head through the countryside to a cricket farm, where crickets are raised to eventually become tasty snacks. Considered a delicacy by many, local lore also says that hungry soldiers ate them to beef up their nutrient-poor diets.
Day 10: Local Life - Le Jarai Mekong Full Day Tour (B/L)
This morning depart from your hotel and drive approximately two hours to Ben Tre, gateway to the Mekong Delta. Here, you will board a small boat to navigate the waterways of the mighty Mekong.
Pay visits to some of the local industries including a brick factory and a coconut processing plant. After the boat trip you will have a short walk to a local village to see mat weavers at work, before jumping on the delta’s version of a tuk-tuk and travelling down the country roads to the pier. Here you will board the beautiful teak boat ‘Le Jarai’ to continue your cruise along the river. While onboard join in the demonstration of Vietnamese cooking before sitting down to a sumptuous three-course lunch of Mekong specialities. After lunch relax on the top deck and take in the scenery back to Ben Tre, where on arrival you will transfer back to Ho Chi Minh arriving late in the afternoon.
Day 11: Ho Chi Minh City – Flight To Siem Reap (B/D)
Your guide will meet you at your hotel and transfer you to the airport for your flight to Siem Reap. Upon arrival, transfer and check in to your hotel and spend the rest of the day at your leisure before your evening tour.
In the evening take your first glimpse of the Angkor Temples with a sunset cruise along the moat of Angkor Thom. Board your gondola and glide quietly along the water to the southwest corner of Angkor Thom and the small temple of Prasat Chrung. This small sandstone temple whose name means Shrine of the Angle was constructed in the late 12th century. Take along a cold beer or two to enjoy as the sun sets on the majestic temples of Angkor.
Day 12: Siem Reap - Angkor Thom, Bayon, Ta Prohm & Angkor Wat Full Day Tour (B/L)
Start your day of exploration with a visit to the South Gate of Angkor Thom where statues of the gods of good and evil line the entrance. Your next stop is Bayon, known for the hundreds of smiling faces that grace its towers. The bas reliefs are quite impressive and tell stories of daily life and the great battles that were fought between the Khmers and ancient Thais. Move on to Phimeanakas, shaped a bit like a pyramid with two ponds in the rear. The ponds were once used for religious rituals but today serve as swimming pools for Khmer kids. Walk to the top of the temple for impressive views of the Angkor complex.
See the rows of trunks that form the wall of the Terrace of the Elephants, a platform from which King Jayavarman surveyed his army. Close by is the Terrace of Leper Kings, which includes a statue depicting Yana, the Hindu god of death. Then it’s a short drive to one of the most loved temples of all - Ta Prohm. This small crumbling temple is held together by giant tree roots giving it a magical feel.
Return to Siem Reap for lunch and to escape the hot sun. Later in the afternoon explore magnificent Angkor Wat, the world’s largest religious monument. This visually spectacular temple is a massive three-tiered pyramid, rising 65 metres from the ground and crowned by five lotus towers. It’s the national symbol of Cambodia and proudly appears on the country’s flag.
Day 13: Siem Reap - The Lost Temple Of Beng Melea Full Day Tour (B/L)
Embrace your inner explorer as you discover the ancient ruins of Beng Melea, a forgotten and lost jungle temple on the outskirts of the Angkor Complex. It’s about a 2 hour drive to reach Beng Melea. The history of the temple remains a mystery, although it is thought to have been built in the 12th century. Completely overgrown by jungle, the temple has an eerie, abandoned feel. There are fantastic photo opportunities of trees sprouting out of the towers, walls covered in thick green moss and tree roots entwined in the crumbling structure. No restoration work has been carried out and some parts of the temple are inaccessible, however, a large boardwalk with viewing platforms wraps around the temple.
Day 14: Local Life - Siem Reap Local Life & Community Village Full Day Tour (B/L)
Drive to the edge of the Tonle Sap Lake and embark on a cruise to Kompong Phluk, an isolated Khmer community of three villages built on wooden stilts. The community has about 3,000 inhabitants who farm fish and vegetables on floating platforms.
During your visit, your boat will take you through mangrove forests, a unique ecosystem that survives on flooded soil for months. Mangroves are also hosts for a variety of wildlife; keep an eye out for birds and especially the crab-eating macaques!
Continue your drive to a small village called Chansar. Stop just outside the village and hop aboard an ox cart for a fun ride through the fields and to the home of a Khmer family who specialises in making brooms. Enjoy a simple Khmer lunch followed by more activities or just spend time chatting with the locals. Funds from your tour go directly to the community to improve the lives of the people. On the way back to Siem Reap, stop at a Buddhist temple to receive a blessing from the monks.
Day 15: Siem Reap - Flight To Bangkok (B)
Your guide will meet you at your hotel and transfer you to the airport for your flight to Bangkok. Upon arrival, meet our guide and enjoy a private transfer to your hotel in Bangkok. Check in and spend the rest of your day on your own time.
Day 16: Bangkok - Full Day Unique Bangkok City Tour (B/L)
Take on Bangkok’s eclectic range of local transport options with this full day of sightseeing around the city. Meet up with your guide and transfer to the Saphan Taksin Pier on the Chao Phraya River. From here, take the ferry to Bangkok’s most sacred Buddhist site: the Grand Palace. This famous landmark offers some stunning examples of classic Thai-Buddhist architecture, including dozens of pagodas, stupas, statues and temple houses. Just as spectacular is nearby Wat Pho. Follow your guide’s lead to the main building, housing an enormous 160 foot Reclining Buddha. Next, hop in a local tuk-tuk to transfer to Wat Suthat temple, best known for the giant red swing outside its gates.
After lunch at a local restaurant, head on to see the interesting work done inside a Buddha statue factory and the ‘House of Bowls’, where locals have crafted alms bowls for monks for over 300 years. The walking tour takes you on to see Wat Saket; also known as the ‘Golden Mount’, this temple is set atop a manmade hill. Back down, there’s time for a visit to the Rattanakosin Exhibition Hall, a museum highlighting some of the historical treasures of the Rattanakosin Era. To finish the trip, take the local public boat at Klong Sansab back towards the city and connect to the BTS Sky-train to return the hotel.
Day 17: Bangkok - Full Day Ayutthaya By Cruise (B/L)
Journey from Bangkok to the country’s former capital of Ayutthaya by road. This is your chance to escape the hustle and bustle of Bangkok. Stop off at the majestic ‘Bang-Pa-In’ - a gorgeous palace formerly frequented by King Rama IV during the steamy summer months. The waterside complex takes inspiration from Thai, Chinese and gothic design; here, see the intricately-carved camel bone dragon, or snap some photos next to the bright red watch tower overlooking the lake.
Head a little further north to Ayutthaya to explore the ancient temple ruins and crumbling pagodas that used to form Thailand’s largest and most important settlement. Afterwards, dine on-board your boat while making your way back to Bangkok. Along the way, enjoy the view as the riverbank scenery slowly transitions from emerald rice paddy fields to traditional Thai architecture and finally an urban skyline.
Day 18: Bangkok - Tour To Damoen Suduak Floating Market - Flight To Chiang Mai (B/L)
Prepare for a morning of colour, art and passion, as you’re picked up at your hotel and driven 100 km southwest of Bangkok to the Damnoen Saduak Floating Market in the Ratchaburi province. Walk around and check out the many stalls or rent a paddle boat to experience the market from water.
Next stop at the Mae Klong railway market where 8 times a day, every day of the week, a train runs through the market! As soon as the siren signals the arrival of the train, everything stops. Shoppers will hop off the tracks, and vendors will quickly pack their goods and prepare to close/retract their awnings from the train track as the train passes by. Once the train is gone, its business as usual as if nothing happened.
After your morning tour transfer to the airport for your flight to Chiang Mai. On arrival a guide will meet you and take you to your hotel.
Day 19: Essence Of Chiang Mai - Full Day Lanna Temple Relics (B/L)
Spend a day exploring the highlights of Chiang Mai, all while reducing your carbon footprint by travelling aboard a traditional Thai rickshaw.
Start the day at Doi Suthep, home to Wat Phra That Doi Suthep - considered the holiest shrine in northern Thailand. Founded under miraculous circumstances in 1386, this spiritual location features a steep flight of 300 stairs flanked by greenery and guarded by a 16th Century Naga serpent carving. You can either brave the climb or opt for a more gentle funicular train adjacent the stairs. Atop the mountain, the views from here are nothing short of stunning.
Enjoy lunch in the shade of large trees at a charming riverside restaurant and then swap your car for a traditional Thai rickshaw. Glide onward to Waroros Market. Weave through stalls brimming with anything from flowers to silks to handicrafts, before ending the day at two of the most stunning temples in Chiang Mai: Wat Srisuphan and Wat Chedi Luang.
Day 20: Chiang Mai - Full Day Chiang Dao Trek And Elephant Camp (B/L)
Breakfast at your hotel before departing to Elephant Nature Park, roughly 60km or 1.5-2 hours of driving. Here you can observe the magnificent creatures as they go about their peaceful existence. You’ll get the chance to watch the elephants as they bathe, walk with them as well as feed them from a viewing platform. The visit will include lunch at the Park before heading back to Chiang Mai for your final overnight stay.
Optional program: Another option for this day is to visit Conserve Natural Forests in Pai. It’s slightly further away, taking roughly 3 hours to reach from the city, but features some extra eco-activities. As CNF is primarily focused on reforestation, you’ll get to help out with planting trees and learn about their projects. They also rehabilitate elephants rescued from poor conditions here, and if there’s one present you’ll get to feed and bathe the elephant(s). However, since the project focuses on rehabilitating the elephants into the wild, these elephant activities can’t always be guaranteed, so make sure to check with us first when booking if this is a vital part of the experience for you.
Day 21: Chiang Mai - Flight To Phuket (B)
Transfer from your hotel in to Chiang Mai Airport for your flight to Phuket. On arrival in Phuket, check into your hotel and spend the rest of the day settling into island life.
Day 22-24: Phuket Free Days (B)
Spend the rest of your trip enjoying some quality downtown on Thailand’s largest paradise island. If sitting all day on a beach is not your thing, the island offers many activities such as elephant encounters, white water rafting, rock climbing and plenty of water sports. Or stay in town and shop up a storm at the local markets.
Day 25: Depart Phuket (B)
Transfer with your guide from your hotel in Phuket to Phuket Airport. Say goodbye and have a safe onward journey!
Tour price includes:
• Complimentary arrangement for Visa Approval Letter – single entry Vietnam.
• Transfer by private air-conditioned vehicle as per program.
• English speaking guide as per program.
• Lunch (L) & Dinners as mentioned (L/D).
• Visit fees for all sightseeing as mentioned on the program.
• Accommodation in sharing double room including breakfasts at hotels as mentioned.
Tour price excludes:
• Stamping fee for visa to Vietnam.
• Meals not mentioned.
• International flight and taxes.
• Domestic air tickets and domestic a/p taxes.
• Other personal expenses: drinks, souvenir, etc…
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